CHAT: living conditions/conditionally Re:MiscellaneousNonsense
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, August 19, 2000, 0:02|
"SMITH,MARCUS ANTHONY" wrote:
> On Fri, 18 Aug 2000, John Cowan wrote:
> > There are Native American lgs (but I forget just which ones) that habitually
> > use north/south/east/west instead of left/right/front/back to refer to
> > directions.
> I heard they were Australian languages. Am I wrong on this count? Or is
> this an urban legend of linguistics?
It could easily be both. It's a good case, like onomatopoeia, where language
is fairly directly influenced by the outside environment. For languages that developed
in flat plain-like regions where reference points are few and far between, like
the Pueblo languages of New Mexico and Arizona, there is a tendency for
cardinal-point directional systems. In those languages in particular, there are six
cardinal points: the four European ones, plus the zenith and nadir. I've been
told that in certain parts of the midwest, this has also become a part of their
English: people refer to the north or south side of a building, rather than the front
or back. In regions where terrain is rough and varied, like that of the Guarijio of
Northern Mexico, there is more of a tendency for people to use relative directional
Tom Wier | "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."